Shorebird Leg Flags

The position of the metal band is not required to determine the flagging location, and may vary from that shown in the diagrams on the pdf links.

Examples of engraved number/letter types and combinations. image: © 2007 APSN.

For two-colour flag combinations the flag position sometimes varies as follows:

  • On large waders, the flags are usually both placed on the tibia
  • On smaller waders one flag is placed on the tibia and one on the tarsus.

Engraved numbers and/or letters are now being used on many of the new flags. These will identify the date and place where the bird was flagged.

Typical leg flag and aluminium identification band placement.

All reports of flag sightings will be replied to, even if you see the same flag colour many times. Please report all sightings.

Illustrated coloured flags are mainly for regional identification. These may be placed on the upper leg (tibia) or lower leg (tarsus), or both.

The addition of coloured bands fitted by some banding schemes also provide additional information such as the identification of the individual bird. Although easier to see than engravings the position on the legs is extremely important to provide maximum information about the bird.

Great care needs to be taken to get the maximum results from reading the colour combination and/or engraving.

Please report all sightings to

Leg Flags in use in the Asia-Pacific region

Download a leg flag pdf in table form here »
Download a leg flag pdf in diagram form here »